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IVR - Contact Centers Shying away from Using Speech Recognition Technology
March 01, 2012

Contact Centers Shying away from Using Speech Recognition Technology

By Madhubanti Rudra, TMCnet Contributor

The U.K.-based contact center magazine, Call Centre Helper has recently conducted an IVR survey that revealed that speech recognition technology has not been able to win over the contact center industry.

The survey found that only 18 percent of contact centers have combined speech recognition technology with their services. These contact centers reportedly forwarded their calls with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.

We IVR survey, which involved 425 respondents asked the users how well they thought the speech recognition software performed.

Even the respondents, who maintained that they found speech recognition technology to be accurate, admitted that the technology is not foolproof when it comes to detecting certain accents.

Majority of the respondents gave the technology an average score, while a small fraction of the respondents labeled it as “low” performing.

Thus the main problem seems to relate to the overall accuracy – particularly with regional accents.

The problems relating to accents are more prominent in countries like South Africa, where the different accents complicate the recognition process and people can be less comfortable with using voice-based technology.

Speech recognition accuracy rates are rarely published by the vendors. In an article on tmcnet, Jeff Foley, a former senior marketing manager at Nuance (News - Alert), is reported as saying that “the perceived accuracy of those systems—the accuracy that your callers experience—is only 70 percent.”

The real challenge, according to the survey lies in the wide discrepancy between the recognition rate for a single word in a controlled environment and that obtained in real life with noise in the background.

While it is possible to achieve 90 percent accuracy with careful tuning, in real life, it may not be more than 50 percent.

According to the survey, the accuracy problem often results from the absence of words that is not in the list. These “out of grammar” errors can be in the 15 percent range, the survey maintained.

The survey provides an explanation why speech recognition technology has been slow in taking off.

In other speech recognition technology news, UTOPY (News - Alert) announced that Customer Interaction Solutions magazine, the leading publication in CRM, call centers and teleservices since 1982, has granted UTOPY SpeechMiner with a 2011 Speech Technology Excellence Award.

Edited by Juliana Kenny

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